What is the risk level of alcohol intake?
More indulgent than you have been told. Many official and professional groups have published guidelines on the risky levels of drinking. Likewise, recommended levels or safe levels have been presented. These all are guesstimates and underestimates. They are more guided by what is thought to be politically correct than by scientific evidence. As a matter of fact, the risk level of alcohol intake is not easy to estimate. Risk levels vary depending on the outcome we are interested in. Life-span is the most interesting end result. Fortunately, all-cause mortality is the most studied outcome. The best we can do is to see where the risk of death meets that of lifelong abstainers.
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Alcoholism, aka alcohol dependence, aka alcohol addiction, is another fuzzy concept. It escapes rigorous definition. Fuzzy concepts can be useful in everyday communication as approximate signs of direction but do not take us far.
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Errors in the dominant theory
In 1842, when Abraham Lincoln (1809 ~ 1865) was addressing the temperance folks in Springfield, Illinois, he famously said that ”none seemed to think the injury arose from the use of a bad thing, but from the abuse of a very good thing”(169). The belief that we are dealing with the use of a bad thing continues to dominate the policy. The dominant dogma claims that it is necessary to reduce the population total alcohol consumption by increasing the price and reducing the availability of the beverages in order to diminish the alcohol-related harms. This is called the total consumption model (170).
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